SINGAPORE - Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong delivered his new year message on Tuesday.
Here's the transcript of his message in full:
THE YEAR IN 2013
1. Singapore continued to make progress in 2013. We have set new directions for Singapore, and are working steadily towards them. Change can be unsettling, and we have encountered a few rough spots this year. As a society, we were tested, but we came through together. As we work through the transition, we can look forward to a better future for all.
2. Our economy has done well. It grew by 3.7% in 2013 - better than initially expected. Median salaries increased by 3.9% in real terms, and pay for the lower-income went up too. This means better jobs and new opportunities for workers. It also means that we can do more to make ours a gracious city for all. Next year we expect to grow by 2-4%.
3. In other fields too, our people are scaling many peaks of excellence. Cultural works like "Ilo Ilo" are winning international awards. Team Singapore athletes did well at the SEA Games, winning medals in a wider range of sports and inspiring Singaporeans. In the latest Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), our students ranked among the top three countries worldwide for reading, mathematics and science.
OUR NEW WAY FORWARD
4. In the National Day Rally, we set a new direction for Singapore. The Government and community will give more support to individuals. We aim to keep our society open and mobile, especially through education, so that anyone can rise regardless of family background. We will strengthen social safety nets to ensure that anyone can bounce back from difficulty, and to give Singaporeans, especially our seniors, greater peace of mind on their healthcare costs. We will share the fruits of progress more widely, including through home ownership schemes and support for low wage workers.
5. We are making steady progress. The first-timer queue for HDB flats has shortened, housing prices have stabilised, and targeted subsidies have made homes more affordable. We are investing in quality pre-school education for all, and refining the Primary 1 registration and PSLE scoring systems. Our schools are stressing values and character education. Equally, we are broadening definitions of success as we seek to make every school a good school. MediShield-Life will provide all Singaporeans, including those with pre-existing illnesses, better lifelong protection against high medical bills. We are also working out the Pioneer Generation Package to honour the special generation who built today's Singapore. We will announce details soon.
6. These are major shifts in our way forward. We will implement changes progressively, and improve on our programmes as we learn what works best. In the next few years we will take further initiatives to address other needs, and deal with new problems that arise. After the Budget session, we will prorogue Parliament. When Parliament reopens in May, the Govern-ment will set out our agenda for the rest of our term.